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Mumps

What is mumps?
What are the symptoms of the mumps?
How is the mumps spread?
If I’ve been exposed to the mumps how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
How long is a person with the mumps contagious?
How can I keep from getting the mumps?
What should I do if I think I have the mumps?
If I have the mumps, how can I prevent others from getting it?
Isn’t there a vaccine for mumps?
What treatments are available for the mumps? How serious is the disease?
Where can I get more information on the mumps?

What is mumps?
Mumps is an acute viral disease caused by the mumps virus which is a Paramyxoviridae virus.

Mumps was a common childhood disease before a vaccine was widely available starting in the 1970s. Because most people have now been vaccinated, mumps is a rare disease in the United States. Of those people who do get mumps, up to half have very mild, or no symptoms, and therefore do not know they were infected with mumps.

What are the symptoms of the mumps?A child with mumps, courtesy of the Public Health Image Library
The symptoms of the mumps include: Swelling and tenderness in front and below the ear, fever, headache, muscle aches, or earache.

However, one-third of the people exposed to the mumps virus will not show any symptoms.

How is the mumps spread?
The mumps virus is expelled into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

If I’ve been exposed to the mumps how long will it take for symptoms to develop?
Symptoms usually appear in 16 to 18 days, but can be as soon as 14 days and as long as 25 days.

How long is a person with the mumps contagious?
A person infected with mumps is contagious from six days before until nine days after swelling begins. He/she is most contagious 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.

How can I keep from getting the mumps?
The mumps vaccine (usually MMR) is the best way to prevent mumps. Other things people can do to prevent mumps and other infections is:

What should I do if I think I have the mumps?
Stay home; do not go to work or school. Contact your health care provider. Inform the office if you were exposed to someone with the mumps.

If I have the mumps, how can I prevent others from getting it?
If your doctor tells you he thinks you or your children have the mumps, stay home. Do not go to work or school for nine days after the onset of the swelling.

You should also practice good hand washing (scrub for at least 30 seconds using soap and water), and cough or sneeze into a tissue or cough into your sleeve. Dispose of tissues properly.

Isn’t there a vaccine for mumps?
Mumps is preventable with the mumps vaccine which is a component of the MMR vaccine. This vaccine is effective for both children and adults.

If your child is over 12 months of age make sure he/she has received the MMR vaccine. If your child has not been immunized and has been exposed to a confirmed case of the mumps, have them immunized and keep them at home from the 12th to the 25th day after exposure.

An adult should be vaccinated with the MMR if:

You do not need the vaccine if:

What treatments are available for the mumps? How serious is the disease?
There is no specific treatment for the mumps, other than staying home and resting until all symptoms are gone.

Generally, mumps does not cause serious problems. In rare cases, however, mumps can cause encephalitis or meningitis; or problems with the reproductive system.

Where can I get more information on the mumps?
For more information online, you can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or you can call the Health Department at 859.363.2070.

Sources: Northern Kentucky Health Department, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Kentucky Department for Public Health